Friday, 29 January 2016

Hand lettering, and a trip to the alps

I've always liked drawing words and adding them to my sketches. A few years ago, I even took some calligraphy classes. Yet, handlettering is, in many ways, new to me, and something I want to explore more.

Above my new mantra, to remind me to not allow expectation, and the ensuing frustration, to take over.  I've started to take my sketchbook to work again, and to try and sketch in my lunch breaks as much as possible. There's only one weapon to fight the deadly pair - practice.

I'm enjoying a week's holiday this week. Since N had to work over Christmas and New Year, and we couldn't spend the holidays together, he came over this week for my birthday. We're taking it easy, relax and just go to the city or for walks. But on Wednesday, we set the alarm clock and got up early to spend the day in the mountains. We headed to the Berner Oberland, first to the picturesque village of Wengen, with its lovely wooden chalets and a view of the highest of the majestic trio, the Jungfrau.


Then we took the train up to the Kleine Scheidegg. Even up here, at 2,061m altitude, it was warm, especially in the sun, but at least there was plenty of snow. We spent some time lying in deck chairs, sipping tea and enjoying the sun. It was just absolutely perfect. From here, you can take the train to go up to the Jungfraujoch, also called Top of Europe, at 3,466m (we're saving that trip for another time).

There is no doubt that a trip up to the Jungfraujoch is an absolute highlight for many people, and I still rememer the ice caves up there from when I was a child, over 30 years ago.

But the most impressive view must be the infamous Eiger north face. That 1,800m almost vertical wall of rock and ice, one of the most dangerous and difficult ascents, which has attracted, fascinated and challenged many climbers, and claimed the lives of at least 64 of them since the first attempts of ascent in the mid 1930. I have to say, it's a complete mistery to me how anyone would even consider the thought of trying and climb up that mountain face! I much rather enjoy the view from the bottom.

We then took the train down the other side, to Grindelwald and walked around there for a bit before, tired but happy, taking the long journey back home. One of my intentions for this year is to take the occasional trip up to the mountains, something I haven't done for far too long. And this trip certainly was a good strat. Mountains are just good for my soul.

A day spent high up in the mountains and the snow - me, I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday.

Eiger (3,970m), Mönch (4,107m) and Jungfrau (4,158m)

Friday, 22 January 2016

A perfect Sunday

Last Sunday was just the perfect day for staying at home. And what a perfect way to start the day, after a 30 min Yoga practice, with some painting and a fairy tale. There's a whole series of Grimm's fairy tales made by German television in the past few years, and I recently discovered that you can watch most of them online on their website.

My pile of 25x25 squares is slowly growing. I've already finished six of them, which is twice as much as the one-a-week I had planned to do. But then I'm sure there'll be weeks when I won't be able to paint one at all. And in the end, it doesn't really matter how many I do anyway. The point is to practice. They're like sketchbook pages. Not really finished pieces, although, of course, they can be that too. More or less finished, with sometimes just a a few charcoal sketches and nothing else.

And while I was adding some snowflakes to my paiting, outside, it was snowing too.

Unfortunately, it is already getting warmer again, and the snow is quickly melting away. And next week, the temperatures are going up even more again, well over 0 degrees. What a mad winter.

Friday, 15 January 2016

A visual library of sorts, and some snow

I can't believe we're already in the middle of January. Time seems to be both standing till and running at the same time. The beginning of a new year is always a bit of a strange time, I find. A bit quiet, a bit restless, like when you arrive in a strange town for the first time and have yet to figure out your way around. But also quite cosy, and perfect for staying at home in the warm, curl up on the sofa with a hot water bottle, a warm woolly blanket and a hot chocolate. And of course also for spending time in the studio.

I painted two more of my 25x25 squares. The first one didn't quite turn out as I wanted, but I didn't yet want to work on fixing it, so I just started another one. That's the good thing with those. You can just try something out, and then take certain elements and use them again, and again, and see what you can do with them. I imagine it like a library of ideas, images, patterns, that you can refer back to whenever you want/need some ideas. A growing library of references, hopefully. So even the ones that go wrong can still contain some useable elements, and therefore deserve a place in stacks.

I'm happy to say that by now, the snow has not only arrived in my painting, but also outside. It's only a very thin layer yet, but it's a start. Now just keep coming, snow, keep coming!

Friday, 8 January 2016

No expectations, no pressure, just fun and play

New year, new goals, dreams, intentions. One of them is to blog more often, and here we are, already a week into the new year, and I haven't posted anything until today. But I'm also keeping one of my biggest intentions in mind, that of letting go of expectations, of the pressure I tend to put myself under. In life, in my art, in everything. And instead to just do the job, as good as I can.

I want to spend a lot more time in my studio this year, and to figure out where I want to go with my art. But most of all to just paint. Without expectations. And to help me take the pressure off things, I've come up with a little project or challenge for myself. A little 25x25cm painting on paper, just to explore, experiment and learn. One a week. Of course it can be more than just one a week, and it's not the only thing I want to do, but - no pressure. Last weekend I did the first one. She turned out a lot more pink than I expected, but that's alright too. After all, the whole point of this exercise is to let go and have fun. A pure practice and learning experience.

I've been reading a lot of complaints on social media about the weather some are experiencing at the moment - cold and snow. And how they feel they are/have been born in the wrong place. Well, I certainly feel that too. But the other way round, as I am made for snow and low temperatures, but unfortunately, we're not having any of it here at the moment. Being up in the alps, going for a walk in the early morning, the crisp cold snow scrunching under your feet. The air so cold that with every inbreath, the hair in your nose slightly freeze together. The first rays of the sun appearing behind the mountaintop, transforming the thick layer of snow into a carpet of sparkling diamonds. Coming home with your cheeks red and burning from the cold, warming yourself with a big mug of steaming hot chocolate, before going out again to spend more time in the beautiful winter wonderland.

How I miss the alps. And winter. After that terrible summer (that's my definition) of 4 months of sunshine day after the day, and temperatures well above 30 degrees C, I think I deserve a proper winter now. But temperatures are still closer to 10 than to 0, and there's no snow in sight. But I haven't given up hope of Sunday walks in the snow yet. And another of my intentions for this year is to go on the one or other day trips to the mountains this year.